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The State of Libya has signed the COMESA – East African Community and the Southern Africa Development Community Free Trade Area agreement thus bringing to 18 out of 26 countries in the tripartite blocs that have signed. Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed A.H. Syala, signed the agreement during the 19th COMESA Heads of State Summit.

The leaders commended the countries that have signed the agreement and urged those that have not signed to do so in order to start the process of ratification to enable the TFTA Agreement to enter into force by 1 January 2017.

They urged Member States to regularly consult among themselves on the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite negotiations in order to adopt common positions where possible and negotiation them as a group in the tripartite negotiations.

In its report to the Heads of State, COMESA Council of Ministers noted that the tripartite Summit had given Member/Partner States 12 months from the launch of the TFTA in June 2016 to conclude outstanding negotiations issues on rules of origin, trade remedies and tariff offers.

However, due to a number of challenges faced in the process, the deadline of June 2016 was not met. It was further noted that the commencement of Phase II negotiations covering trade in services and other trade related matters, could not take place due to the delay in concluding Phase I issues.

The Agreement requires 14 ratifications to enter into force. So far, no country has ratified it.